Linguistics: An Introduction

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9781847063670: Linguistics: An Introduction
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At last — an introduction to the study of language that is neither theory-neutral nor generative, but one that is cognitivist and functional. It highlights the links of linguistics with psychology, neuroscience and biological evolutionary theory. In addition it is engaging, pedagogically well thought through, lucidly written and nicely presented. The perfect book for beginners!
(Eva Eppler, Senior Lecturer in English Language & Linguistics, Roehampton University, UK)

William McGregor's new textbook is an excellent introduction to linguistics. It is clear, precise and readable, comprehensible and comprehensive, and it is eminently usable as both a core course text as well as a reference work. It also does not neglect the extensions and applications of linguistics in the real world. This book is likely to become the benchmark for linguistics texts in the next few years. (Peter Stockwell, Professor of Literary Linguistics, University of Nottingham, UK)

In this introductory text McGregor offers a clear and well-constructed account of core concepts, leading students to explore linguistic diversity with an impressive range of languages and examples, particularly in the later chapters of the book. A reflective student or independent reader with a fascination for the subject will find a wealth of material relevant to basic puzzles about language and more than ample guidance for further study.
(Michael Lumsden, Department of Modern Languages, The University of Hull, UK)

William McGregor has produced a textbook which unfolds the study of language in a refreshing and lively way, positions the subject in relation to adjacent disciplines, and gives the beginning student a general view of the complexity and diversity of the world's languages. (David Cram, University of Oxford, UK)

This book is a superb introduction to linguistics, and cannot fail to entice students to read it. It covers not only the traditional core areas in linguistics of phonetics, phonology, morphology, the lexicon, syntax and semantics, but also highly topical and contemporary areas such as the evolution of language in its biological context, language change, the language and society interface, and how language is acquired, not to be overlooked in any solid modern textbook.

Each chapter is very clearly set out, providing its structure and the objectives to be met at the very start while a concise summary of all the essential facts covered is given at the end, combined with a set of challenging questions and ideas for further reading. An extremely useful glossary of linguistic terms is also to be found at the end of the book. In fact, it is much more astutely organised than other comparable introductory textbooks on the market.

Linguistics: an introduction presents a refreshing new approach to explaining the basic facts about human languages and will undoubtedly prove to be indispensable at university level. Another bonus is that it is completely technically up-to-date with its inclusion of website information and further sets of questions and thus can felicitously cater for today's enterprising student-internaut.

In short, the book is a gem written by a consummate master of the art and discipline of linguistics, a scholar who has already notched up several decades of experience in empirical research in the field as well as in teaching at university level.
(Hilary M. Chappell, Chair Professor in Linguistic Typology of East Asia, Centre de Recherches Linguistiques sur l'AsieOrientale, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, France)

"McGregor's Introduction is a very well-balanced and informative introductory text. It is designed to give the student a sense of being able to think clearly about language, and to engage in the study of language in any of its diverse manifestations — always in a perspective in which (as McGregor says) "meaning and use play absolutely central roles". The book will make it clear to students what it means to say that linguistics is the science of language." - M. A. K. Halliday, Emeritus Professor of Linguistics, University of Sydney, Australia.

Linguistics: An Introduction provides a fresh yet traditional functionalist perspective on some of the core issues in modern linguistics, occupying an intermediate position between existing introductory workbooks and textbooks. Students will appreciate the no-nonsense focus on basic facts and concepts, as well as the frequent interjection of practical suggestions for how to study, learn, and conduct linguistic analysis. Professors will enjoy the steady infusion of examples from Australian and other lesser-known languages of the world, as well as the stimulating new questions at the end of each chapter. Linguistics is a textbook suitable for students all around the world — and Americans will find much in this book to get their linguistic juices flowing.
(Bert Vaux, University Lecturer, Department of Linguistics, University of Cambridge, UK)

"Instructors of introductory linguistics assume their textbook will be comprehensive. They expect it will cover basic concepts and introduce fundamental strategies of linguistic analysis. Many prefer that an introductory linguistics text minimize theoretical constructs and limit representational formulas.

So it is with Linguistics: An Introduction by William B. McGregor. It covers the essential components of linguistic study: historical/comparative, morphology, phonetics/ phonology, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, syntax and semantics. It also has chapters on the world's languages and the kinds of structural features found in different areas of the world. It emphasizes the systematic nature of language, its paradigmatic and syntagmatic aspects. Throughout these chapters, students will appreciate the attention to meaning and use of language. Instructors will appreciate the way McGregor has highlighted significant parameters of linguistic analysis such as the animacy hierarchy in syntax, the meronymic hierarchy of body parts in the lexicon and geographic directions in the expression of spatial relations.

Instructors of introductory linguistics classes will find McGregor's book pedagogically stimulating and flexible. It offers a variety of avenues for getting students involved with the concepts of each chapter. As the introduction makes clear, each chapter is anchored to a problem solving pedagogy in order to engage students in the process of understanding. There is a deliberate attempt to bring real world scenarios and commonly held assumptions to bear on the study of linguistics so that one can address perspective questions of the sort, "Why should anyone be interested in the ideas of this chapter?".

Instructors will find value in this book and its organization. Since the chapters are not inextricably linked one after the other, they can be arranged in a class syllabus in various orders: word formation and morphology, with their emphasis on word level units of meaning, can precede what students often perceive as the abstractness of phonetics and phonology. There is a nearly 30 page glossary of terms at the outset that provides useful definitions for students grappling with chapter concepts and relationships among them. There is also a website for the book. For each chapter, the website provides additional information as well as multiple choice questions to test student understanding. Feedback in the form of answers to the questions is provided. Incorporating website activities and assessment provides instructors with yet another measure of student understanding.

Within each chapter, clearly delineated sections provide material that can be used for pedagogic effect. The instructor is thus able to place students in small groups that emphasize peer-to-peer learning, engage students in large lecture halls that place a premium on individual student learning as well as various combinations of these.

For each chapter, there are nine sections, in addition to the text itself, that can be utilized to enhance student learning. At the outset of each chapter is a brief paragraph summary that succinctly captures its conceptual character. A Chapter Contents section follows that lays out these concepts and provides some notion of their interrelationship. A list of Goals for the chapter follows. Then occurs a list of Key Terms for the chapter. All of this is available before the chapter narrative. Instructors will thus be able to assign key concepts to individual students or groups of students, ask students to convert Chapter Content material into a schematic representation or engage students in a host of other pedagogic activities in order to build understanding before, during and after text material has been addressed. Within each chapter there are useful and informative figures, tables, maps and examples that illustrate and provide perspective for the key concepts and their relationships. Additional useful features within each chapter are bold-demarcated text islands of important information or illustration of chapter content. At the end of each chapter, there is a Guide to Further Reading that provides additional sources ranging from introductory to more specialized information in order to expand understanding. Perhaps most useful at the end of each chapter is a section entitled Issues for Further Thought. It has activities and questions that relate chapter content to the student's immediate environment, i.e. newspapers, magazines like Scientific American and other sources that allow the student to explore examples of linguistic behavior beyond the text. This section has the potential to sharpen the observation and analytic skills of students; it leads naturally to a questioning of linguistic assumptions commonly held by the general population and whether these assumptions are justified under a scientific understanding of language. And finally there is a Notes section for each chapter that clarifies distinctions or provides a broader context for selected concepts.

Overall, McGregor has fashioned a stimulating and pedagogically satisfying introductory textbook that will prove valuable for introductory linguistics taught in a variety of classroom formats." — Professor Ronald P. Schaefer, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, USA

(Professor Ronald P. Schaefer, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, USA)

McGregor's "Introduction" is a very well-balanced and informative introductory text. It is designed to give the student a sense of being able to think clearly about language, and to engage in the study of language in any of its diverse manifestations — always in a perspective in which (as McGregory says) "meaning and use play absolutelycentral roles". The book will make it clear to students what it means to say that linguistics is the science of language.

(M. A. K. Halliday, Professor Emeritus, University of Sydney, Australia)

... this book has set a new benchmark for linguistics textbooks. I will definitely be adding Linguistics: An Introduction to the core texts on relevant syllabi in my own teaching and I would be delighted to recommend the book for the BAAL book prize. (British Association of Applied Linguistics)

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